This mapo tofu is a riff on the way that my dad would make it. More traditional recipes will use Pixian doubanjiang or even fermented black beans, but we didn’t usually have those ingredients in our pantry. For this dish, I used Lee Kum Kee’s doubanjiang (chili broad bean paste), which I think is easier to find, and you might already have at home! When in a pinch, my dad would omit doubanjiang completely and rely on just the peppercorns and chili oil (still v v good but probably not quite mapo tofu anymore). You can also use chicken or veg stock in place of water if you have it.
- 1/4 lb ground pork
- Pork marinade: 1 tsp cornstarch, 1 tsp Shaoxing wine
- 1 block silken tofu, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 2 tsp Sichuan peppercorn, crushed
- 2 cloves of garlic minced
- 1 scallion, thinly sliced, separate scallion whites and greens
- 1.5 tbsp doubanjiang
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 tsp sugar
- 1-2 tsp chili oil
- Cornstarch slurry: 1 tsp corn starch + 1 tbsp water, mixed
- 1/4 tsp MSG
- salt to taste
- Mix the ground pork with cornstarch and Shaoxing wine and let it marinate for ~15 minutes.
- Heat up oil (~2 tbsp) in a pan over medium heat and sauté peppercorns until they become fragrant, about a minute.
- Add garlic and scallion whites and cook for another minute.
- Turn heat to medium-low and add ground pork, breaking it up with your spatula, until roughly 75% of it has browned (there should still be a little pink). Add doubanjiang and stir in. Pour in water and simmer for 2 minutes.
- Toss in tofu and gently mix and simmer for 3 minutes.
- Mix in sugar and chili oil.
- Then mix in MSG and salt to taste.
- Finally, add the cornstarch slurry, giving it a stir before pouring in. Garnish with scallion greens.
*Note: you can also make this vegetarian by using a mix of dried shiitake and mushrooms. Rehydrate the shiitake and save the soaking liquid to use in place of the water.